by Ciara O’Keeffe, VP, Product & Customer Delivery

  1. Mobile to the Masses

I expect to see a real jump in adoption for mobile in the workplace in 2017. A whopping 80% of the global workforce are deskless employees, currently experiencing poor levels of communication with no email or intranet, relying on team meetings, management communications and noticeboards. Finding out about company news on public social media or on the news creates a real disconnect between the employee and company; a “them and us” rather than “we”.

Your employees, particularly the digital native Millennials, are expecting the same ‘always on’ experience they get outside the workplace, within the workplace too. You need to be providing real-time, in-the-moment communications to compete with Twitter, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and all the other ‘external’ social media platforms where company news might land.

Whist mobile has been on the IC agenda for a while, there are now a number of tools readily available to help drive more effective communications and as the case studies and positive results are coming to light, more and more organisations will be keen to jump on the bandwagon.

  1. We are All Communicators

The role of the internal communicator is changing. From once being a function to effectively deliver company communications to all employees, it’s now much more about communications enablement for all.

For instance, managers need to learn how to communicate effectively with their teams to help drive engagement and effectiveness. According to Gallup, the number one influence on employee engagement is the employee’s manager and yet managers are often moved into a management/leadership position because of their ability to perform at an operational level, with rarely any assessment on their management and communications skills. Transforming your managers into competent communicators will positively impact employee engagement as well as the manager’s skillset.

Another part of their required management skillset will be dealing with employee communications. Innovative ideas, issues and domain knowledge exist everywhere in your organisation, not just at management level. Giving all employees a voice and a space to share with other colleagues, helps to provide a sense of purpose, improve productivity through knowledge sharing and empower employees in their own level of engagement.

  1. Let Employees do the Talking

Companies are slowly realising that instead of courting external experts to tweet, blog and promote their brands externally they should be turning their attention internally to their existing brand experts, their employees.

Your employees live and breathe your brand and products every working day. One of the first questions they get asked at conferences or even at weekend social events is, “where do you work?” they are a walking spokesperson for your company. If provided with the correct information they can also answer the tricky questions around company ethics or the sustainability and responsibility agenda.

Companies are afraid that if they allow their employees to talk about them on social media, things could get messy. The reality is, most employees do anyway. Where you work is a significant part of your personal brand, people talk about it all the time. Rather than pushing your employees to talk about it in the dark corners of Facebook, provide them with the training and resources to do it confidently in the open.

  1. The Rise of the Machines

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been talked about for many years, but for most people a scene of a robot in a movie comes to mind. Well no longer. Machine learning is upon us and it offers fantastic opportunities to companies to better understand their employees.

You will be able to track behaviour and measure things such as sentiment in different regions across the globe. You will be able to discover and deliver what employees want and need, almost before they are aware they need it! This technology brings a whole array of uses that could be applied to internal comms and I’m excited to see how it starts to unfold in 2017.

  1. Treat Internal as External

What you present to your employees should be what you also present to the outside world. Every employee message should be considered as external-facing. It is a common occurrence, these days, to see leaked CEO letters or all-staff emails in the press. If you advertise your company as having one set of values, ensure those values are taken seriously inside the organisation also.

A great example of internal-external disconnect is from Sainsbury’s, the UK supermarket chain. Their slogan is ‘Live well for less’, yet an employee poster, designed for the staff break room was accidentally displayed in the window of the supermarket. The poster challenged employees to get each customer to spend 50 pence more on each visit until year-end. The gaffe made news across all the major UK newspapers and sites.


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